History of Sivaganga District
The Kingdom of Ramnad originally comprised of the territories of Ramnad, Sivaganga and Pudukottai of today. Regunatha Sethupathy alias Kilavan Sethupathy, the 7th King of Ramnad reigned between 1674 and 1710. Kilavan Sethupathy, came to know of the bravery and valour of Peria Oodaya Thevar of Nalukottai, 4 Kilometres from Sholapuram near Sivaganga. The King assigned to Peria Oodaya Thevar of Nalukottai a portion of land sufficient to maintain 1000 armed men. Vijaya Regunatha Sethupathy became the 8th King of Ramnad in 1710 after the death of Kilavan Sethupathy. The King gave in marriage his daughter AKILANDESWARI NACHIAR, to Sasivarna Thevar, the son of Nalukottai Peria Oodaya Thevar.
The King gave Sasivarna Thevar lands as dowry, free of taxation, sufficient to maintain 1,000 men. He placed him in charge of the fortresses of Piranmalai, Tiruppathur, Sholapuram and Tiruppuvanam as well as the harbour of Thondi. Meanwhile Bhavani Sankaran, the son of Kilavan Sethupathy conquered Ramnad territory and arrested Sundareswara Regunatha Sethupathy, the 9th King of Ramnad. Bhavani Sankaran proclaimed himself as the Rajah of Ramnad. He became the 10th king of Ramnad and he reigned from 1726 to 1729. He quarrelled with Sasivarna Peria Oodaya Thevar of Nalukottai and drove him out of his Nalukottai palayam. Kattaya Thevan, the brother of the late Sundareswara Regunatha Sethupathy fled from Ramnad and sought refuge with the Rajah of Tanjore Tuljaji. While Sasivarna Thevar was passing through the jungles of Kalayarkoi, he met a Gnani (sage) named Sattappiah, who was performing Thapas (meditation) under a jambool tree near a spring called `SIVAGANGA’ . The deposed king prostrated himself before him and narrated all the previous incidents of his life. The Gnani whispered a certain mantra in his ears (Mantra Opadesam) and advised him to go to Tanjore and kill a ferocious tiger which was kept by the Rajah especially to test the bravery of men. Sasivarna Thevar went to Tanjore. There he became acquainted with Kattaya Thevan a refugee like himself. Satisfied with the good behaviour of Sasivarma Thevar and Kattaya Thevan, the Rajah of Tanjore wanted to help them to regain the States again, ordered his DALAVOY to go with a large army to invade Bhavani Sankaran. Sasivarna Thevar and Kattaya Thevan at once proceeded to Ramnad with a large army furnished by the king of Tanjore. They defeated Bhavani Sankaran at the battle of Uraiyur and captured Ramnad in 1730. Thus Kattaya Thevan became the 11th King of Ramnad.
First RAJAH SASIVARNA THEVAR (1730 – 1750 )
Kattaya Thevan divided Ramnad into five parts and retained three for himself. He granted the two parts to Sasivarna Thevar of Nalukottai conferring on him the title of “Rajah Muthu Vijaya Regunatha Peria Oodaya Thevar”.
Second RAJAH – MUTHU VADUGANATHA PERIA OODAYA THEVAR (1750 – 1772)
Sasivarna Peria Oodaya Thevar died in or about the year 1750. He was succeeded by his only son Muthu Vaduganatha Peria Oodaya Thevar. He was the second Rajah of Sivaganga. His wife Rani Velu Nachiar acted as “friend, Philosopher and guide” to him. Tandavaraya Pillai was the able minister of Sivaganga country. Muthu Vaduganatha Peria Oodaya Thevar granted commercial facilities to the Dutch only after the English rejected a similar offer, made to Colonel Heron. Further the aim of the English was to oblige the ruler of Sivaganga to serve the Nawab or to pay tribute to him or to dissuade them from establishing relations with foreign powers like the Dutch. A two pronged offensive was made by the English. Joseph Smith from the east and Benjour from the west invaded Sivaganga Palayam in June 1772. The country was full of bushes of cockspur thorn, though there were villages and open spaces here and there. Rajah Muthu Vaduganatha Thevar, in anticipation of the invasion, erected barriers on the roads, dug trenches and established posts in the woods of Kalayarkoil. On the 21st of June of 1772 the detatchment of Smith and Benjour effected a junction and occupied the town of Sivaganga. The next day, the English forces marched to Kalayarkoil and captured the posts of Keeranoor and Sholapuram. Now, Benjour continuing the operations came into conflict with the main body of the troops of Sivaganga on the 25th June 1772. Muthu Vaduganatha Rajah with many of his followers fell dead in that heroic battle. The heroic activities shown in the battle field by Velu Nachiar is praised by the Historians. The widow queen Velu Nachiar and daughter Vellachi Nachiar with Tandavaraya Pillai fled to Virupakshi in Dindigul. Later they were joined by the two able Servaigarars Vellai Marudu and Chinna Marudhu.
Third RANI VELU NACHIAR (1772 – 1780)
Rani Velu Nachiar and her daughter Vellachi Nachiar lived under the protection of Hyder Ali at Virupakshi near Dindigul. Frustrated by the joining of forces against him, the Nawab ordered that Velu Nachiar and Marudhu Brothers were permitted to return to Sivaganga and rule the country subject to payment of Kist to the Nawab. Abiding by this Order, Rani Velu Nachiar accompanied by Marudu brothers and Vellachi Nachiar entered Sivaganga. An agreement was reached where by Rani Velu Nachiar was permitted to govern the Sivaganga Country and Chinna Marudu, the younger was appointed her minister and the elder Vellai Marudu as the Commander-in-chief. Thus the widow Queen Velu Nachiar succeeded her husband in 1780.The Queen Velu Nachiar granted powers to Marudhu Brothers to administer the country in 1780. Velu Nachiar died a few years later, but the exact date of her death is not known (it was about 1790).
Marudu brothers are the sons of Udayar Servai alias Mookiah Palaniappan Servai and Anandayer alias Ponnathal. They are native of Kongulu street of Ramnad. They belonged neither to the family of the ancient poligars nor to their division of the caste.
Servaikaran was the caste title and Marudu the family name. The Marudu Brothers served under Muthu Vaduganatha Thevar. Later they were elevated to the position of Commanders. Boomerangs are peculiar to India. Two forms of this weapons are used in India. These weapons are commonly made of wood. It is cresent-shaped on end being heavier than the other and the outer edge is sharpened. Their name in Tamil is VALARI stick. It is said that Marudu Brothers were experts in the art of throwing the valari stick. It is said that Marudus used Valari in the POLIGAR wars against the English. The Marudu brothers with 12,000 armed men surrounded Sivaganga and plundered the Nawab’s territories.
The Nawab on the 10th of March 1789 appealed to the Madras Council for aid. On 29th April 1789, the British forces attacked Kollangudi. It was defeated by a large body of Marudu’s troops. He was in close association with Veera Pandiya Kattabomman of Panchalankurichi. Kattabomman held frequent consultations with Marudhus. After the execution of Kattabomman in 17th October 1799 at Kayattar, Chinna Marudhu gave asylum to Kattabomman’s brother Oomadurai (dumb brother). He issued an epoch-making Jumboo Deweepa proclamation to the people in the island of Jamboo the peninsular South India to fight against the English whether they were Hindus, Mussalamans or Christians. At last the Marudhu Pandiyars fell a victim to the cause of liberating the motherland from the English supremacy.
Marudu Pandiyan the popular leader of the rebels, together with his gallant brother Vellai Marudu were executed on the ruins of fort at Tiruppathur in SIVAGANGA District on 24th October 1801. They showed their determination and spirit at the outset of the final struggle of 1801 by setting their handsome village Siruvayal on fire to prevent its being made use of by the English forces. Marudu brothers were not only warriers and noted for bravery, but they were very great Administrators. During the period from 1783 to 1801, they worked for the welfare of the people and the Sivaganga Seemai was reported as fertile. They constructed many notable temples (i.e Kalayarkoil) Ooranis and Tanks.
After, so many successions of legal heirs ruled the estate, lastly, Sri D.S. Karthikeya Venkatachalapathy Rajah succeeded to the estate of late Sri. D. Shanmuga Rajah and he was the Hereditary Trustee of Sivaganga. Devasthanam and Chatrams consisting of 108 temples, 22 Kattalais and 20 Chatrams. Sri. D.S. Karthikeya Venkatachalapathy Rajah passed away in 30.8.1986 leaving a daughter named Tmt.. Maduranthagi Nachiyar as his heir. At present, Tmt. Maduranthagi Nachiyar is administering the Sivaganga Estate , Sivaganga Devasthanam and Chatram of Sivaganga Royal Family now. Based on the “District Gazette” 1990 of Ramanathapuram, and the history of Sivaganga maintained by Samasthanam, Sivaganga District has been formed mostly with an area of entire Sivaganga Zamin and part of Ramnad Zamin.